Fairness



Election Rules

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). 

The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) is responsible for creating a framework that allows candidates to campaign for votes in innovative and effective ways, whilst ensuring a level playing field for all. The DRO and Returning Officer will review complaints/activity in line with this framework and work with candidates and campaigners to support a positive campaigning period. If you have any questions about the rules you can contact the DRO at elections@exeterguild.com.

  1. These rules apply to all candidates and their campaigners (here, we refer to both as ‘campaigners’). The candidate is responsible for the actions of their campaigners.
  2. All candidates and their campaigns must, at all times, abide by existing law and regulations, in particular:
    1. University regulations (including IT policy)
    2. Data protection (GDPR)
    3. Health and safety
    4. COVID-19 regulations and guidelines (Government and University)
    5. The Guild’s Code of Conduct
  3. All campaigners must always conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, treating everyone with respect and dignity.
  4. Campaigners must follow the direction from the University’s Campus Services, Estates and Grounds staff, and Estate Patrol whilst campaigning on campus. 
  5. Campaigners should not undertake campaign activity which others could not also reasonably do.
  6. Campaigners may only alter, move or remove their own campaign materials once in place.  
  7. Campaigners may only use mailing lists where lawful to do so and must not use Guild mailing lists. 
  8. Campaigners must allow voters to cast their ballot freely and must not communicate with voters once they have started completing their ballot, nor touch a device being used to complete a ballot. 
  9. Campaigners must have all campaign activity approved by the Deputy Returning Officer (or delegated Guild staff) prior to campaigning. Due to the pandemic, in-person activity will not be possible. Please contact the Voice team for advice. We have provided a risk assessment and tips document for hosting an online event, if your event is in this boundary then you are fine to go ahead without notifying the Guild. If your event goes further than this risk assessment, please speak to the Voice team. 
  10. Campaigners must not exceed their budget limit and must submit their Campaign Expenses Form on time (even if you don’t spend any money). Find out more here.
  11. Student groups are free to engage with this election but can only show support for candidates with the agreement of the majority of its members. Student media groups must give fair and equal treatment of candidates in their coverage of the election. We have produced a more detailed briefing on this here.

If you think someone has breached this framework, you can make an Election Complaint.


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Election Complaints

If you think that a candidate or one of their campaigners has broken the Election Rules, you can make an Election Complaint using this form (not by email or in person). Complaints must be made before 17:00 Thursday 27 May.

If there has been a breach of the rules, the Deputy Returning Officer will investigate and might issue penalties. Penalties may include: confiscation of materials, instruction to remove online content, banning campaign activities or events (temporarily or permanently), fines (taken from campaign budget), and ultimately disqualification (only in the most serious circumstances). The failure of a campaign to comply with a penalty can incur further penalties.  

The Deputy Returning Officer may instruct the vote to be re-counted if candidates have been retrospectively disqualified. 

Complainers and complainants have the right to appeal a decision up to two hours after it is made. The Returning Officer will assess the fairness of the original decision and penalty. The Returning Officer may uphold the original decision or made a new decision. This decision is then final.

Before making a formal complaint, we recommend trying to resolve the issue with the candidate concerned about it first if you are able to.

If you are a candidate and you feel that your campaign is being unfairly disadvantaged (even if an election rule might not be broken), please contact the Voice team for advice or support elections@exeterguild.com.


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Campaign Budgets

Everyone should have a fair opportunity to be a candidate and have a good campaign. That is why the Guild gives every candidate a Campaign Budget:

  • £50 for candidates for full-time roles (Guild President, Vice Presidents, AU President).
  • £20 for candidates for Subject Chairs.
  • £20 for candidates for NUS Conference Delegate.

You must use your Campaign Budget for all campaign expenses. You must not spend more than your Campaign Budget. If you go over your budget, you might get a penalty (see Election Rules).

Items freely and readily available to all campaigners do not need to be included as campaign expenses.

You must complete the Campaign Expenses Form (which lists each of your campaign expenses, even if you did not spend any money) before 17:00 Thursday 27 May. This form will be emailed to candidates nearer the time.

You must also provide receipts (or other evidence) for each of your campaign expenses by 16:00 Friday 28 May. Any discrepancies between the receipts and the Campaign Expenses Form will be investigated.

You will need to provide proof of purchase such as a copy of a receipt or a paid VAT invoice. If these are not available then they can provide an order confirmation along with proof of payment, an email or a bank statement showing the payment will be acceptable. 

We recommend you keep track of you budget and receipts as you go. You might want to nominate someone in your campaign team to be a ‘treasurer’ to look after this.

Once we have the receipts, we will reimburse you (pay you back) the campaign costs (this will normally take around 5 working days). If you need your campaign budget up-front, please contact the Voice Team (voice@exeterguild.com) and we can arrange this for you.


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Deputy Returning Officer

The Students’ Guild is a democratic organisation and has a duty to ensure all of its Elections are free and fair (Education Act 1994). It is the job of the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) and the Returning Officer (RO) to make sure this is the case.

Our Deputy Returning Officer is Kathryn Sullivan and she issues the Election Rules and approves the candidates. She is also responsible for investigating and deciding election complaints. You can contact Kathryn at elections@exeterguild.com.

Our Returning Officer is an appointed member of staff at NUS (National Union of Students) and is responsible for deciding any appealed election complaints and generally the election is free and fair. All communications to the Returning Officer go through the Deputy Returning Officer.

Can I campaign in-person?
We currently do not believe that it is possible to campaign in person at all, and have not been given sufficient information for the week following the earliest possible move out of this phase to be confident that there will be sufficient or any change to the law which would enable campaigning in person on campus.
 
As such, our current stance (and this is not likely to change) is that in-person campaigning before or during the voting period is going to be legally impossible and is therefore barred by law and it is highly likely that any candidate discovered campaigning in person would be subject to the fines imposed by law.
 
If such a fine was imposed then it would bankrupt your campaign and you would also be disqualified. Therefore do not campaign in person unless you receive direct information from us (either Gary McLachlan or Andrew Trezise in person) that you may do so.
 
Can I put up posters?
No - In the interest of fairness for those not in Exeter and for covid-safety, campaign posters will not be permitted on campus this year.

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Society Endorsements

Affiliated Clubs and Societies have no legal identity of their own and are therefore a part of 
the Union to which they are affiliated. Therefore, the rules on fairness which apply to the
Students’ Guild and Athletics Union apply to their affiliated groups.

Can Clubs and Societies endorse candidates?

Yes, but they must prove their members want them to.

How?

By holding a poll or vote, on Facebook or any other platform where it can be guaranteed 
that ONLY Club or Society members have voted.

  • The poll times should be well publicised, and have a definite closing time.
  • The poll should clearly state which candidate would be endorsed, and which post 
    they are running for.
  • The poll should make it clear that a majority voting in favour means that the 
    candidate will be endorsed.
  • The Club or Society must run this poll themselves – the Guild / AU will not run polls 
    on their behalf

A simple majority of the members who vote in the poll deciding to endorse a candidate is 
enough to endorse a candidate.

  • A simple majority means more than half of the voters being in favour of endorsing 
    the candidate.
  • Societies and Clubs are not required to endorse a candidate who asks and can 
    simply say “no” if setting up a vote would be too much work under current 
    conditions

Exclusions

  • Clubs and Societies cannot give candidates money
  • Clubs and Societies must not spend their members money on candidate publicity

Complaints

In the event that a student complains about a Club or Society endorsing a candidate we 
will check that they are – and if they are then we shall ask the Club Captain or
President (or equivalent) for proof that they held a poll of their members 

  • An election complaint is only accepted on the grounds that a Society has endorsed 
    a candidate without the permission of its members.
  • Our (election) investigation will focus on the candidate and determining if they 
    requested the endorsement.
  • We shall also ask the Society committee for any proof of votes held to endorse a 
    candidate
  • Complaints about Societies are handled separately.

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